Saturday, May 31, 2008


Today the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic Party voted to restore half of the delegate votes of both Florida and Michigan. Each delegate from each of these states that moved their primary dates up in contravention of Democratic Party rules will be able to cast one half of a vote a the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August.

It was a partial victory for both states, each of which submitted challenges to the committee that they restore to them one half of their votes as opposed to denying them any votes at the convention.

The new goalpost is now set at 2118 votes to nominate a presidential candidate.

The committee met in a fish bowl, an open meeting where vocal partisans of the Clinton campaign and Obama campaign looked on. It was covered by both MSNBC and CSPAN, but on CSPAN, at least, one could view the proceedings on a PC, which is what I had to do while distributing SD-18 T-shirts to state convention delegates this morning.

It became clear to me that the committee would not be restoring full votes to either of these two state delegations, despite the impassioned pleas of Jon Ausman for Florida and, and Carl Levin for Michigan. Ausman unsuccessfully argued that it was Republicans that forced the date of the primary. Democrats voted for it as well in the Florida state house because the bill included voting reforms that restored a paper trail to Florida’s voting process.

It was pointed out that the rules committee’s previous ruling that would deny Florida 100% of its delegates served to deter some Florida voters from voting in their primary election. Indeed, Robert Wexler (D – FL) pointed out that Florida stood out as the only state in the union that had fewer Democrats participating in their primary election than Republicans.

That, to me, was a very persuasive argument that the Florida vote was not fully reflective of all Florida voters, indeed representing a subset of voters that one could successfully argue might have produced a different outcome if the election process was unimpeded.

Rules are rules, and under the rules, Florida was to have its delegation halved. My thought, however, was that if the Florida results were in some way skewed, the total effect of that skewing might be mitigated by having its voting power halved. I wonder if this was on the minds of some of these rules committee members.

Michigan, however, was another matter. Michigan Democrats, led by Sen. Carl Levin, were in a fight to deny New Hampshire their continued status of always being first. His argument, also well-received, was that if you look at the results of Iowa and New Hampshire, and look at who continues to be running for president, it is the three winners of them: Obama and Clinton split one each, McCain took both states. His fight, and that of other Michiganders, led to the inclusion of Nevada and South Carolina as two more pre-Super Tuesday primaries, with one of them to occur before New Hampshire’s primary. But, singularly, New Hampshire ran an end-around and placed its primary date second after Iowa. This thoroughly enraged Michigan when the rules committee let them do this, and enraged them further when Michigan voted themselves a pre-February 5th date in retaliation, and they did not also receive a waiver.

Levin also argued that half of their delegation votes be restored, per party rules.

Levin admitted that the Michigan primary election was a “flawed election” in that all candidates did not have their names on the ballot – four withdrew their names, actions that it was later admitted, were something the state should not have allowed. But since it was, it set up an impossible situation where Michigan voters had to choose between Clinton, Kucinich, Gravel and Dodd. Either that or vote “uncommitted”, which 40% of voters did.

The question was asked: did voters who voted for one of the other three, vote for them because their candidate wasn’t listed? Were there those that did not vote for any of the choices because their candidate wasn’t listed? It was also pointed out that there were 30,000 write-in votes (5% of the total) cast that were not counted because of Michigan rules which only allows registered write-in candidates to have their votes counted. And then again, how many Michigan voters simply stayed home because their presidential vote wouldn’t count?

Clinton’s camp’s position was that the votes should be counted and delegates awarded, as-is, 73 delegates for Clinton, 55 uncommitted, without regarding the obvious fact that the election was ”flawed”. Obama’s people argued the fact that the delegate votes should be split 64-64, ignoring the fact that a vote had taken place. The Michigan Democratic Party offered a compromise, one that they had agreed to among all factions in their state, one that they begged the committee adopt: 69 Clinton, 59 Obama. This figure, they came up with mainly from exit polls and those 30,000 uncounted write-in votes. They were obviously squeamish about this compromise as well, but the fact was, it had already been agreed to within the state by all parties concerned.

This split, and the half vote per delegate rule was eventually passed by the committee with a combination of votes from Obama supporters, uncommitted supporters, as well as 4 Clinton supporters.

Harold Ickes, Clinton’s chief advisor, also on the committee, was visibly upset by the ruling, uttering words not permitted on the public networks, and promising a fight in the Credentials Committee.

The committee meeting adjourned to heckles and catcalls from the Clinton supporters in the audience. Clearly Harold Ickes’ words were having an effect that rulings handed down in this committee meeting did not serve to unite the Party, but would further divide it. It made me further reflect on the threats of staunch Clinton Democrats (Clintocrats ?) who threaten to bolt to the Republican side if Obama is handed the nomination. Are they truly serious? Would they purposely inflict more pain on our country because they couldn’t have their female nominee?

I cannot fathom it, but then when it comes to understanding the female mind, I am truly, very truly, Half Empty.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mass Transit: A Concept That Has Finally Come of Age

I remember the first Earth Day back in 1970. Back in 1970 gasoline was selling for around 33 cents a gallon but you could get it for 28 cents at the cheap discount stations. Back in 1970 people were worried about air pollution, and gasoline engine emissions were the principal contributors.

No one was concerned with global warming. No one was concerned with depletion of an abundant and cheap natural resource.

No one.

Still, arguments were made even way back then about the need for mass transit systems in the future. Expensive mass transit systems. Very few metropolitan areas bought into building them, fewer actually went and did it. Some cities, like Houston came in late and bail-wired a light rail system that is limited in extent, and used by very few commuters. San Francisco already had a surface electric car system that was augmented by an underground system they labeled BART. Los Angeles came on later with its largely surface and freeway-following Metro system, an extensive system that links one side of the greater Los Angeles area with another. Even Singapore, that tiny island at the tip of the Malay Peninsula has an extensive and well-used underground system called the MRT.

[The MRT, by the way, is why it is illegal to buy or possess chewing gum in Singapore. Patrons of the MRT would stick their used gum wads in the railcar doors fouling the sensors that sensed whether the doors were closed]

What is my point? My point is with the exception of a few of the newly established underground systems, mass transit has been poorly used, and, if you will, used only by the poor. The LA Metro system is famous locally for being an exclusive haunt of the poor, the young and carless, and people who hear voices and talk to themselves. Commuters have, by and large, stuck to their automobiles, the freeway system, and dependence on gasoline.

Times seem to be changing, however. Gasoline prices have started to become an actual factor in the everyday lives, and budgets, of middle class Americans. A factor that now causes them to rethink their lifestyles and maybe adopt alternative transportation. I spotted this Chon article today that makes a good read.

Middle class Americans are discovering the viability, usefulness, and economy of mass transit. It took $4 gasoline to do it, but I guess with every dark cloud there is a silver lining. If more Americans keep their cars parked in their driveways, or at commuter parking lots, everyone benefits.

Now that this trend is reality, now maybe it’s time for metropolitan areas to adopt mass transit plans, or expand the ones they already have.

The writing is on the wall. It has taken 38 years from the first Earth Day, when mass transit was lauded as a clean alternative to air polluting auto transit systems, to finally being seen as viable and useful by people who already own and operate cars. How long is it going to take for cities, counties, and metropolitan areas to read this writing and put some plans in place that link the suburbs to each other and to the city centers?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Clinton Supporters Pressure Swing District Superdelegates; Will Support Their Republican Opponents.

I have stayed away from this subject because, frankly, it sickens me. But here in Texas we have a group of feminist supporters of Hillary Clinton who are so strident in their support of their candidate, that they openly threaten to vote for John McCain should Barack Obama be, as they say, be “forced on them” by the DNC.

That or support a write-in candidate.

But now they, as reported in a blog by Linda Starr, are openly threatening not to support local superdelegates Nick Lampson (TX 22) and Charles Gonzalez (TX 20) and will support and vote for their Republican opponents. Says she:

“I’ve been contacting the HRC supporters and contributors, all of whom previously supported Nick Lampson in his bid to take Tom Delay’s old seat. These women are so incensed because they say Lampson could never have won without their volunteer help and financial assistance and they will vote Republican, if Obama is made the nominee because their own representative defied them.”

I just have to object here. On several levels.

First, I just want to point out that a lefty Democrat would never support a Republican candidate in anything. Starr, on her various blog appearances, seems to align herself with the left. So I have to say that either this is just so much huff and bluster, and an empty threat, or Starr or her sisters are not Democrats anymore.

In fact, Starr in this same blog piece mentions that she is “starting a new national women’s party for the specific purpose of electing women”. So that’s how you get a true majority: form a splinter group.

Second, need I point out that Starr and others of her ilk are saying that they intend to vote for a resolute anti-choice presidential candidate? I need to ask which one of the “feminist issues” surpasses the right of a woman to choose whether or not to have a child? And it isn’t just a four-year thing when they can have Hillary as president in 2012. When they help to elect McCain president this November, they will usher in an era when Roe v. Wade will be overturned. Justice John Paul Stevens, a pro-choice justice who turns a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court to a 4-5 minority whenever an abortion case comes before it, has made no bones about the fact that he wants to retire. He’s battling poor health, but clearly is hanging on in order to preserve women’s abortion rights.

With McCain in office, there goes a woman’s right to choose, and we are back to the bad old days of backroom botched abortions.

And third, I am suspicious why Starr lumps Lampson’s district, CD 22, with Gonzalez’ CD 20. This is again a new metric, I think. Boy, am I getting tired of new metrics.

While I don’t know how Charlie Gonzalez’ district went in the primary as far as the presidential race, I think that it’s safe to assume from its large Hispanic population that it went for Clinton. Gonzalez, however, has endorsed Barack Obama. Now that would irritate me, also. If my congressman was endorsing the candidate that my district did not support in the primary, I would be righteously irate. But how, pray tell, are these supposedly Democratic women hoping to bring Republican Robert Litoff (who has no campaign fund to speak of) a victory in November in a congressional district so heavily Democratic that Republicans did not bother to oppose Gonzalez in ’06, and he trounced his Republican opponent 65% to 32% in ’04?

Are they using some new metric to back up their threat?

Contrast that to Nick Lampson’s CD 22. Now Nick’s district IS a swing district and everyone knows it. Nick’s own votes in several key areas bear witness to the fact that he is trying to play to both sides of the aisle. But from the quote above, it would seem like Lampson has also gone the way of Charlie Gonzalez and thrown in with the Obama camp.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I heard it from the man’s own lips. He will remain uncommitted in this presidential dust up. I, and everyone else I know, assume that he will make his choice known when the winner is a foregone conclusion.

But now, here we have all these irate women gnashing their teeth at how Lampson needs to vote with his constituents. I quote:

“My whole point, if the superdelegates are willing to defy their constituents and vote for Obama for whatever reason, they are no longer representing their constituents interests (women’s suffrage), their constituents primary votes, or their will.”

Now MY whole point is this: if Nick Lampson were to bow to the will of his constituents he would now be supporting Barack Obama for President. I did the math. I did the grunt work and added up each and every vote in every precinct in CD 22. I reported on it here, here, and here. But for those of you who have Comcast as an ISP and don’t want to start another pageload, I’ll repeat myself. CD 22 snakes through parts of 4 counties (courtesy of Tom DeLay). Here are the county totals and the total totals.

Fort Bend County: 25,812 for Obama, 18,209 for Clinton
Harris County: 13,650 for Obama, 17,501 for Clinton
Brazoria County: 7,170 for Obama, 4,948 for Clinton
Galveston County: 5,440 for Obama, 4,814 for Clinton

CD 22 Totals: 52,072 for Obama (53.4%), 45,472 for Clinton (46.6%)

So I just have to ask: what metric allows Linda Starr to come to the conclusion that Nick Lampson would “defy” his constituents if he casts his super vote for Barack Obama?

Is it the metric that says if he doesn’t bend to the minority will they will be royally “pissed off” (her words)?. Well, OK, that’s fine. Be pissed off. Be angry that Barack Obama has the majority of delegates and seems to be inevitable.

Yell and scream.

Then, at the end, in the fall, let passions subside and let self-interest, logic, and, yes, party loyalty prevail. No true Democrat wants John McCain to be president. No feminist wants Roe v. Wade overturned. And most Americans want to put an end to the war in Iraq next year.

Yes, be angry. But then do as many of us who have a bone to pick with some of our Democratic candidates do.

Vote a straight Democratic ticket.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Texas Attorney General Agrees to End Voter Suppression; Claims Victory

Only in Texas can an elected official completely cave on significant voter suppression issues, and then turn around and claim absolute victory. This is exactly what happened today as 6 plaintiffs who filed suit in federal district court over Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s voter fraud attacks on minorities and senior citizens, agreed to drop their lawsuit.

According to the Lone Star Project which spearheaded the lawsuit, this settlement was a victory for Texas voters:

“The Texas Attorney General has agreed to rewrite prosecution guidelines to reflect that voters who merely possess the ballot of another voter with that voter's consent will not be investigated or prosecuted unless there's evidence of actual fraud. Prosecutions will be limited to cases exists such as when a person illegally votes a ballot for another person or causes a person to vote for a different candidate than they wish.“

“By agreeing to this settlement, the Texas Attorney General has essentially acknowledged that those who have been prosecuted to date for hypertechnical violations of failing to sign a mail ballot envelope did not commit any fraud, as he has falsely claimed for years.“

“The Attorney General's filings in the case also revealed that two of the plaintiffs, Gloria Meeks and Rebecca Minneweather, were no longer under investigation, a point the Attorney General had failed to tell these voters. “

“The Attorney General also agreed that the Secretary of State would change instructions to voters who vote by mail in 2008. The Secretary of State had already made changes to the ballot envelope and instructions to voters, acknowledging that such changes were made as a result of the lawsuit. The Attorney General and Secretary of State also agreed to consider additional revisions to voter instruction language that make it clear to voters, and those who assist them, the proper procedures for voting by mail. The Plaintiff will also help the Secretary of State's office create training materials and guidelines so
those who help their neighbors vote will do so in accordance with the law”

In exchange for this agreement, the plaintiffs agreed to drop the lawsuit. Obviously the Attorney General was in a territory that was part of the Bush/Rove voter suppression culture of 2006 and before, but this culture has since fallen into disrepute with senate investigations on the firing of 8 US Attorneys. Attorneys who refused to go along with Karl Rove’s orders to actively prosecute individuals in dubious cases of voter fraud.

This didn’t stop Greg Abbott from congratulating himself for his sly and slick maneuvering against these Democratic activists. From his website:

“Election fraud is a serious crime that undermines our democratic system of government,” said Attorney General Greg Abbott. “After more than a year and a half of pre-trial maneuvering and discovery, the plaintiffs discovered that their claims were without basis in fact or law. Today’s dismissal marks an important victory for the integrity of the electoral process”.


What is important is not who gets to claim victory. What is important is that the Attorney General will stop his hypertechnical interpretation of a 2003 law that governs mail-in ballots, stop prosecuting little old ladies, and stop the Attorney General’s people from peering into the bathroom windows of women as they take a shower.

But a “victory” claim by the Attorney General? I guess you can claim a victory when someone wins. And today, the voters of Texas are winners.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I, George W. Bush, an evil Republican fascist . . .

Have you seen the film A Beautiful Mind? What about The Da Vinci Code? The main protagonists of each of these movies, John Nash in the first, and Robert Langdon in the other, had skills in seeing patterns and rearranging those patterns. There are lots of people around that have that ability to some degree or another.

I was tipped to this guy (thanks Dave), who makes his living as a baker, but has a knack with finding anagrams for long sentences. He constructed a surprising anagram for Hamlet’s soliloquy that essentially summarized the entire plot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

But the really amazing thing is what this guy did with the United States’ Pledge of Allegiance.


To remind those of you who don’t have to utter this pledge each and every weekday of your existence (except for when you are on break), here it is:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

And now here is its anagram:

I, George W. Bush, an evil Republican fascist, used God to inflict pain on the world, end life, facilitate death, create militant jihad rebels, and to let youths die for nothing.

You doubters out there will have to print this page out and get your pencils out to cancel out letters that occur in both. I did, and I am no longer a doubter.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Cancelled in Sugar Land

It’s Memorial Day again. Here in Texas, Memorial Day is a day when hundreds and thousands of American flags get planted on the parkways in neighborhood streets. Indeed, as I was driving through Sugar Land yesterday I a spotted city crew unloading scores of flags off a city truck and planting them at the four corners of an intersection. My own street has a large American flag pushed into the parkway grass in front of each house.

In Texas, Memorial Day, flagly speaking, is really just another Flag Day.

This year anyway.

Now last year at this time, in the city of Sugar Land’s Town Square, they really put on a Memorial Day extravaganza. I wrote all about it. It was a Republican gala put on by Republicans for Republicans. Only they had to invite Nick Lampson, a Democrat, because he was their congressman.

That event’s organizer, 4th Precinct Constable Troy "Dogman" Nehls, read my commentary and responded by giving me his cell phone number, telling me that I could call him any time if I had some suggestions.

My point then was that Memorial Day is for everyone. It’s a bipartisan holiday. I guess my only suggestion to him would have been to make that a little more obvious. Not that it would have done any good. It seems that since then, Constable Nehls, who is a captain in the US Army Reserve, has been called to active duty in Afghanistan. It came as a surprise to him I think, in that in a January 2008 reelection news release “Nehls did not expect to be called again to active duty before his planned 20-year retirement in July 2008”, but just one month later he was shipped off to Afghanistan to serve in the Army’s “Civil Affairs Unit”.

So even if I had delivered my suggestion, another person would be organizing this year’s Memorial Day Gala in Sugar Land.

Or so I thought.

Now, come to find out, this year’s Memorial Day observance in Sugar Land has been cancelled. Exactly why I don’t know. All I know is that its new organizer, Chad Norvell, is Nehls’ Chief Deputy, and I suppose is acting constable while he is on active duty.

So yes, I am a little curious. What could possibly be behind a failure to get this thing off the ground? Republicans are actually giving up an opportunity to wrap themselves in the flag during a presidential election year. Now I know that there are factions in the party of the Dark Side, but at this point I would only be guessing at whether the political infighting therein was ultimately responsible for cancellation of a patriotic event.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if that is exactly what happened.

So instead of attending a Memorial Day event today and blogging about it tonight, I suppose I’ll have to join the ranks of millions of Americans and eat some barbecue. But while I am at this right now, I might mention that there is a pretty good Op/Ed piece on The Chron you can read. A Memorial Day piece written by our next United States Senator from Texas, and another reservist, LTC and State Rep. Rick Noriega. It seems Rick is a little ticked that his opponent would rather send troops in harm’s way than vote for a new GI Bill. Cornyn voted against this bill, along with 21 other Republicans

I think we all should be just a little angry about that. But save your anger for the fall when we will award John Cornyn with an early retirement package.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Phoenix Has Landed

The first soft landing on Mars in over 30 years has just occurred (well it occurred 16 minutes ago at this writing, but it takes awhile for news to travel from one planet to another).

Phoenix is a project headed out of the University of Arizona. The first such project to be led by a university.

Another first. It is the first soft landing above Mars' arctic circle. Its landing zone was sited there to investigate the presence of water on Mars. Where is it. Where has it gone?
Here is the link to U of A's Pheonix project website.

Why Is Karl Rove Still Being Invited to News Programs?

Former White House political advisor Karl Rove was holding forth on George Stephanopoulos’ This Week news program this Sunday morning. It was pretty sickening. This is the guy who got a mediocre at best son-of-a-president elected (well, the Supreme Court cast the final votes on that one) and re-elected (again, did Ohio really go for Bush in ’04?). We spent years listening to this guy twist the truth in more ways than Fox News can even ever imagine.

Now that he has been chased out of Washington in the aftermath of his treasonous act in the Valerie Plame affair, an act that he successfully shifted the responsibility for, to the shoulders of his aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Rove has been very low key. Yes, he has held forth on some campaigns and is said to be advising the McCain Campaign, but he has been in the background from what I could see.

But now, George Stephanopoulos let him come on his news program to spew his garbage once more. Even now, as members of congress are poised to find him in contempt of congress for ignoring their subpoena.

Rove is claiming Executive Privilege. But it has been pointed out that the action in question never came to the attention of George Bush. Rove, by his own admission never brought up the role that he played in getting charges filed against former (Democratic) Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. How then, can he claim Executive Privilege? It doesn’t work that way. Aides and advisors don’t get to enjoy that privilege. That is reserved for the Executive.

Maybe this is why Stephanopoulos invited Rove to his program, so that he can ask him about the subpoena. The last question handed to Rove was on just this affair:

“Here’s what the House report said, it said ‘In May 2007 a Republican attorney from northern Alabama named Jill Simpson wrote an affidavit stating that in November 2002 she heard a prominent Alabama Republican operative named Bill Canary say that Karl Rove had contacted the Justice Department about bringing a prosecution of Don Siegelman. The question for Mr. Rove is whether he directly or indirectly discussed the possibility of prosecuting Don Siegelman with either the Justice Department or Alabama Republicans.’ Did you?”
Stephanopoulos’s question was “Did you do this?” But true to form, Karl Rove didn’t hear that question. The question he heard was “When did you first hear of the Don Siegelman case?”

So instead of answering the question that was asked, he answered the question he heard.

At much length.

ROVE: “Lemme say three things. First of all . . .uh . . .I think it’s interesting that everybody that was supposedly on that telephone call that Ms. Simpson talks about says that the call never took place. I’d say that . . .”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Although she produced the cell phone record, according to the committee.”

ROVE: “Well, I would say three things. First of all, I . . . uh. . . fsh . . .I . . . uh . . I learned about Don Siegelman’s prosecution by reading about it in the newspaper. Second of all, this is really about a constitutional question of separation of powers. Congress, the House Judiciary Committee wants to be able to call presidential aides on its whim . . uh . . to testify violating the separation of powers. Executive Privilege has been asserted by the White House in a similar instance in the Senate, it will probably be asserted very quickly in this . . . in the House. Third, the White House . . . and . . . has agreed . . . I’m not asser . . .I’m not asserting any personal privilege. The White House has offered . . . and my lawyers offered . . . several different ways in which if the House wants to find out information about this they can find out information about this. And they refused to avail themselves of those opportunities. We didn’t say . . . .close off any option to do what anything else you want to do in the future. We said if you want to hear about this let’s sit down and talk about this and then if you . . .you know . . . you’re entitled to do what you want to do in the future. This is now tied up in court, it’s goin’ to be tied up in court and settled in court. And frankly, the House last week doing this . . . you know . . . uh . . .you know. . . is duplicating what the Senate has already done and it’s already found its way into the court.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “But to be very clear, you did not contact the Justice Department about this case?”

ROVE: “Uh. . . I read about . . . I’m gonna simply say what I’ve said before which is I found out about Don Siegelman’s investigation and indictment by reading about it in the newspaper.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “But that’s not a denial . . . ”

ROVE: “Uh . . .I . . I. . . uh …I…I’ve . . . you know . . .heh . . . I read about . . .I heard about it, I read about it, I learned about it for the first time by reading about it in the newspaper.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Rove, thanks very much."

So did George Stephanopoulos get what he wanted? This is, after all, Karl Rove we are talking about. Of course he would dance around and start talking at the speed of light about everything but not answering the question. That’s what Rove does best. So if that was the reason for bringing this traitor up in front of the cameras again to spew his vile filth, I have to wonder if they got what they wanted.

All I saw was a stammering 17 year old explaining why he hadn’t turned in his lab report.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Justice, Texas Style

Now I fully admit that I am a foreigner to these parts. I come from a land of milk and honey. Of bread and circuses. Of dates and nuts. I come from Southern California. In California judges are elected, just as they are here in Texas. But when Californians elect judges, they may or may not know what their party affiliation is.

In California, all judges run in non-partisan elections.

In Texas, we have non-partisan elections as well. Our school board elections are non-partisan. So are our water board elections. The thing is, here in Texas, even when the party affiliation of a candidate for non-partisan office is not stated, everyone seems to go out of their way to find out how they vote anyway.

So Texas is like that.

In Texas we like our judges with partisan stripes, and we generally like those stripes to be red in color. Not burgundy red mind you, not cerise, but full out neoconservative red.

I imagine that neoconservatives in judges’ robes must give Texans some security and comfort. That’s why they return these guys to office over and over again. That and the fact that neoconservative lucre always seems to find its way into their campaign funds.

Witness a recent case against neoconservative home builder Bob Perry of Perry Homes. The Texas Supreme Court overturned a ruling earlier this month in favor of a couple who bought a defective house from Perry. Their $800,000 award, one that they had fought for, for ten long years was completely nullified by this court, whose judges had collectively received $265,000 in campaign contributions from Perry.

Now why on Earth the Supreme Court justices thought it would look OK to hear a case concerning one of their big campaign contributors, I cannot fathom. Perhaps it is the fact that one or two might have been able to recuse themselves from the case, but not the whole freaking court.

Perry is on in his years and reclusive. Not so his son whose entire private life has unfolded in family court here in Fort Bend County. To read the whole sad tale, go read Bev’s Burner at the Fort Bend Star (5/21/08 and 5/14/08). Bob Perry, who is a drunken wife beater by his own son’s admission, has lots of influence in the county courts, too.

He has a near stranglehold on justice in Fort Bend County, having contributed to each family court judges’ campaign fund, except for one. So when each family court judge had to recuse himself from hearing his son’s divorce case, they brought in a visiting judge.

According to Bev Carter, the one judge who had not received a campaign contribution from Perry had been bypassed in favor of the visiting judge because the visiting judge allowed the divorce case to be entered into the public record with only the initials of the divorcing couple. She was told that Judge Robert Kern, the only judge whose campaign coffers are Perry-free, would not have allowed a case to be entered with only their initials.

But visiting judge, Judge Ron “Bubba” Pope had no problem allowing that. Said in fact that it was perfectly legal.

Now whether it is legal or not, I haven’t a care in the world. The fact is that divorce cases in Texas have the full names of the divorcing couples associated with them. Not their initials. Perry was obviously trying to keep his son’s name out of the news. Even out of the court records. Too bad he didn’t consult his son about this, he could have saved himself some trouble.

No, I don’t care if it’s legal or not. It’s not right. It stinks. It smells of roadkill. This is special treatment to a high degree. Special treatment to a family that has contributed mazuma millions to conservative causes locally and nationally.

Justice in Texas? It runs like a well-oiled machine.

Well oiled.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Stick A Fork In Her, She’s Done

No not literally. It’s a baseball saying for a pitcher who has tired to the point of not being able to deliver a serious pitch any more.

From what I can gather of her comments today about why she remains in the primary race despite any reasonable chance of success, Hillary Clinton is either one of two things:

1) Tired beyond all ability to reason
2) A cold-blooded calculating eater of the dead.

I am guessing number 1, but wonder about number 2.

Everyone has been wondering why Hillary Clinton remains engaged in a nomination battle where the numbers are clearly against her. Today we found out why: she’s apparently waiting for Barack Obama to drop dead or be assassinated.

The now infamous quote:

“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don't understand it.”

In 1968, Bobby Kennedy was all set to run against Dick Nixon for president. He won the June primary in California and virtually sealed his nomination. He was shot and killed just after leaving his victory party. Hubert Humphrey was next in line, won the nomination and lost in the general election.

Hillary Clinton is apparently trying to follow the footsteps of Hubert Humphrey. Or so she implied.

Then when her ghoulish gaffe raised the hackles of just about everyone, she delivered the most cryptic apology known to man:

“I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever”

Who was she apologizing to? Anyone? The only thing I get out of those words is that she’s sorry she said that because it got her in a bunch of trouble with voters, delegates, superdelegates and the DNC Rules and Credentials Committees.

Quite frankly I think she’s just tired and frustrated. Those two things, mark me, are a deadly combination and makes you say things you don’t mean, or if you are thinking about those things, you normally restrain yourself in order to be polite and tactful.

Quite frankly, it strikes me that this is the kind of thing that Hillary Clinton was hoping to occur within the Obama campaign – some sort of unforgivable gaffe or event that would cause superdelegates to rethink their votes. Ironic, isn’t it, that the campaign killer she was anticipating may just have occurred in her own campaign.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why We Need a Separation Between Church and State

Mainly because church leaders are responsible for erecting, supporting, and maintaining faith in America. Faith is a belief system and should never be applied to politics, which is another belief system. Different, but a belief system nonetheless. The trouble is, some cannot separate one of their belief systems from another, and some irresponsible church leaders try to take advantage of that.

This gets politicians in trouble as witnessed by the moral outrage many Americans had when they heard the words of John McCain endorser Texas Protestant Evangelist John Hagee. Obama surrogates screamed for McCain to denounce Hagee and renounce his endorsement, which McCain kindly did.

Many compare the outrageous comments of Hagee to Obama’s former minister Jeremiah Wright. McCain surrogates say that there’s no comparison, but this didn’t prevent McCain from saying these words:

“Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well.”

Now I have listened to a great deal of the audio that “Talk to Action” discovered and it’s actually worse than the sound bites you have heard on TV and radio. Not only does he include Adolf Hitler as God’s tool to get European Jews back to Israel, he includes Theodor Herzl, the father of the Zionist movement, as one of Hitler’s teammates.

Leaving me to conclude that some Americans are capable of thinking some really twisted thoughts, and doing some really twisted things. Now listen to the words of Jeremiah Wright just one more time:

NOW, do you know what he was talking about?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Big Oil Companies Acting the Victims

Just when you thought that the falsehoods being spread by the Big Oil corporate bosses could not get any more outrageous, today the falsehoods being spread by Big Oil corporate bosses just went from whoppers to disgraceful whoppers.

It seems that we are to pity these poor, poor men because they are victims.

I read about it on MSNBC’s website but I think every media outlet in America is running some sort of story on the Senate hearing held today at which 5 CEOs from BP America, Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil swore under oath that it wasn’t them robbing people at the gas pump.

Said Senator Diane Feinstein (D - CA) of their woeful complaints:

“[You have] just a litany of complaints that you’re all just hapless victims of a system. Yet you rack up record profits ... quarter after quarter after quarter.”
Replied Chairman Robertson of Chevron (formerly ChevronTexaco):

“I’m sorry to sound like a victim.”
Whining further, oil executives said that “the cause is not company profits but global supply and demand.”

“Supply and Demand”.

I am old enough to know about what happens when there is not enough oil to meet the demand. You have gas lines. You have gasoline rationing. The only gas lines I have seen are at the Murphy station in Richmond when they are charging only $3.61.9 for Regular.

“Supply and Demand” is hogwash.

Oh, in addition to this, oil executives complained that they were forced, forced mind you, to charge these high prices because their profits will be much less in the future, but they must pay for their long-term investments. This is just an “up cycle”, they say. Profits will be less in the future.

Beg to differ. What kind of “upcycle“ lasts for 5 years? That’s not an upcycle, that’s a trend. Let me illustrate. Here at right is a plot of Chevron’s quarterly net profit totals since January 2003. In 2003 they made just under a $1 billion in the first quarter, and that profit steadily rose, more or less, to this past quarterly profit of $5 billion. That’s a trend. That’s a trend that says that, more or less, the company is going to be reporting net quarterly profits of a billion more dollars in each quarter of each succeeding year.

If anyone is a victim it is the consumers who are starting to chafe at the yoke over these gasoline prices. I’m OK, I’ve got my rice burner but what with the SUV buying spree we have had over the past 5 years? Others are truly hurting.

And I’ll tell you who else is not benefiting from these oil prices. The stockholders. Yes, there is a method to my madness and I own a couple or three shares of Chevron, so this was also an exercise in finding out by how much Chevron was sticking it to stockholders like me. Study the chart below the first. It shows Chevron’s quarterly dividends over the same 5-year period. Notice anything? Like how Chevron’s net profits have quintupled in the past 5 years but dividends haven’t tracked that? They’ve just about doubled in that period. Dividends should be about $1.75 per share, not the present 65 cents.

The CEOs were asked how much lucre they were pulling down. Answers varied between $2 million and $12 million per year. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. They failed to mention the lucrative stock options available only to the executive level in Big Oil. Someone forgot to recall former ExxonMobil chairman Lee Raymond’s golden parachute was worth $400 million when he retired in 2006.

No, all this is, is outrageous greed. Outrageous greed being accompanied by outrageous lies.

In another post, I suggested that the high price of petroleum was an effect of oil speculators, and that their main fear is war in the Middle East. The war in Iraq, then, is the chief cause of high oil prices, not “Supply and Demand”.

What does that make these Big Oil companies, then? Companies making outrageous profit in a time of war? There is only one concept that describes them: “War Profiteers”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Victory for Women: 4th Circuit Court Strikes Down Virginia Abortion Law

Just when I was about to lose all hope that justice was going to be as rare as hen’s teeth in this country, where Indiana’s voter suppressive voter ID law was upheld by the US Supreme Court last month, now comes news that at least we can get some justice in the lower federal courts. Virginia’s unconstitutional ban on late term abortions was found to be unconstitutional by a panel of 3 federal appeals judges of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judges hearing the case were Paul Niemeyer, a 1990 Bush-41 appointee, Blane Michael, a 1993 Clinton appointee, and Diana Gribbon Motz, a Clinton 1994 appointee. Understandably, given just that bit of information, the vote was 2-1, with Niemeyer dissenting.

This case, Richmond Medical Center v. Michael Herring et al., has been bounced up and down the judicial ladder, as it were. It first came to the 4th Circuit Court in 2005 where Virginia late term abortion ban was struck down because it did not have a safeguard provision for a woman’s health. The US Supreme Court in upholding the federal ban on late-term abortions in 2007 then sent this case back to the 4th Circuit for reconsideration.

Two judges in the 4th Circuit ruling have ruled that there are sufficient differences between the federal ban and the Virginia one that the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling had no effect on the Virginia law.

“Critical to the Court’s holding in Carhart II is the federal statute’s requirement that a doctor intend at the outset to perform an intact D&E; according to the Court, this requirement of intent at the outset ensures that the federal statute does not impose criminal liability on a doctor who sets out to perform a standard D&E that by accident becomes an intact D&E. As a consequence, the federal statute does not prohibit — through fear of criminal liability — doctors from performing the standard D&E procedure, the procedure employed in the vast majority of (previability) second trimester abortions. In contrast, the Virginia Act has no provision requiring intent at the outset of the procedure. The Virginia Act thus imposes criminal liability on a doctor who sets out to perform a standard D&E that by accident becomes an intact D&E, thereby exposing all doctors who perform standard D&Es to prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment.”
They then found that since no doctor would want to be held criminally liable for performing the procedure, it places a burden on the health of women.

“The Virginia Act is therefore unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. The district court’s summary judgment, to the extent it declared the statute invalid on this ground, is affirmed.”
That’s right. A woman has a right to life, liberty and property, just as a man does. States can’t pass laws that deny them these rights, and courts shouldn’t make decisions that do so.

In all likelihood, if these intrusive monsters keep to the script, the case will probably reappear at the US Supreme Court where justices will have to go on record and uphold the Virginia ban, thus marking their territory on each and every uterus in the United States of America.

Sorry, that was kind of gross, wasn’t it?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Soldiers: Want to Get Out of Iraq? Shoot Al-Qu’ran – and Then Apologize.

In the news yesterday and today is an incident that occurred earlier this month, in a Sunni-controlled area of western Baghdad. An American soldier, a sniper, used Al-Qu’ran, the holy book of Islam, for target practice on a police shooting range.

The soldier first denied that he knew that this book was Al-Qu’ran, but since books aren’t generally used as targets anyway, nobody believed him.

The shot-up book was discovered by an Iraqi soldier who complained to his commander. Word spread to the local Sunni community, who were justifiably indignant, and they demanded an immediate apology.

It finally came, first as a written apology from the offending soldier, who, among other things wrote this:

“I sincerely hope that my actions have not diminished the partnership that our two nations have developed together. ... My actions were shortsighted, very reckless and irresponsible, but in my heart [the actions] were not malicious.”
My guess is that the soldier now has some practice at taking dictation.

Yet later a verbal apology came from the soldier’s commander, Major General Jeffery Hammond, who spoke at an apology ceremony. Among other things, Hammond said this:

“I come before you here seeking your forgiveness. In the most humble manner, I look in your eyes today, and I say please forgive me and my soldiers.”
Well there you go. Apology asked for and delivered. Twice.

Punishment issued to the offending soldier included a reprimand “with prejudice” and an immediate reassignment back to the United States.

They punished the soldier by sending him home.

Now upon hearing this, leaders in the Sunni’s most powerful Iraqi Islamic Party most strenuously objected, and demanded that the army “inflict the maximum possible punishment on this soldier so it would be a deterrent for the rest of the soldiers in the future.”

Good point.

My guess, that upon hearing news of the crime, and its punishment, more soldiers went online to to order themselves up some “targets”.

It is, after all, a fairly painless way to get a one-way ticket out of a war zone. The other method was accomplished by Staff Sergeant Michelle Manhart who was discharged from the army for posing nude in a Playboy pictorial.

That method doesn’t work for everyone though because, first, you have to have something nice that someone will want to take a photograph of. That leaves a lot of people out.

So this new ploy seems to be the way to go.

That is, unless the army comes up with a draconian punishment that will appease the sensibilities of these Sunni Muslims, people who live their lives by Sharia, or Islamic Law. A system of laws that calls for death by beheading for being a homosexual or an adulterer. A system of laws that calls for amputation of the hands for those found guilty of thievery.

What, I wonder, would be an appropriate punishment for desecration of a book containing the revealed words of Allah, as spoken to His Prophet, Muhammad, through his angel, Gabriel?

Maybe the Sunnis have come up with one all by themselves. In their demonstrations decrying this heinous act, Sunnis were heard to be reciting this chant: “Yes, yes to the Quran". And this one: “America out, out.”

You see? These are the minority Sunnis who Bush, Cheney et al. want to protect from certain genocide that will fall on the heels of a US troop pullout.

Sounds like the Sunnis, though, have a different plan. A plan that I like.

US out of Iraq . . . Now.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Huckabee Hearts McCain

Even up to today it still looks like former governor Mike Huckabee is jumping up and down waving his hands saying ”Me! Me! Let it be ME!”

Mike Huckabee hearts John McCain and wants to be his Vice President.

On Meet the Press this morning:

“MR. RUSSERT: But if he said to me, ‘In order to become president, you could help me. Would you be my vice president,’ you'd say yes?”

“GOV. HUCKABEE: There's no one I would rather be on a ticket with than John McCain. You know, let, let me point out that all during the campaign, when I was his rival, not a running mate, there was no one who was more complimentary of him publicly and privately. He was my number two choice. I want to make sure you know he was my number two choice. I still wanted to win, but if I couldn't, John McCain, from always, was the guy I would've supported and have now supported.”

This was apparent even last March as Huckabee was slowly withdrawing from the campaign, leaving a string of burning bridges between his chief rival for the #2 spot, Mitt Romney, and McCain.

From The Politico:

“But as long as Huckabee is campaigning vigorously, he is likely to draw a sizable bloc of social conservatives — and deny former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the direct one-on-one contest he is hoping for against McCain.”

“Huckabee did not mention Romney in his concession statement Saturday. But Huckabee and his aides have barely disguised their disdain for Romney, whose chameleon-like stance on issues and free-spending negative ad campaign have made him the most unpopular candidate among his GOP rivals.”

Hilariously, Democratic political consultant Bob Shrum, has had only good things to say about Mike Huckabee as the GOP presidential nominee, and equally now, as McCain’s VP of choice, as he stated on Meet the Press this morning:

“MR. SHRUM: You don't have to be culturally--well, actually, I endorsed you for president. I thought the Republicans should've nominated you, and I think maybe McCain should pick you for vice president. And I mean that with all due respect.”

Obviously the only reason Huckabee would make a good fit on the ticket is that this would bring balance to a John McCain campaign that does not wear religion on its sleeve or anywhere else. It would give the evangelicals something to cheer about.

But this time we are looking at a VP who may just have something more to do than cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate – a hopefully rare event after this year – in staying alive and well. A 72-year old president on Inauguration Day should give one pause, and make GOPers look long and hard at the VP.

And the problem there is that where McCain’s self-admitted strength is in defense and security, it is long viewed as Huckabee’s weakness. Putting a Baptist minister in charge of the nation’s military would be, at best, a display of American audacity.

But really, Huckabee’s main problem is going to be his “tax problem”. As governor he raised Arkansas taxes and anyone knows that only Democrats are allowed to do that. I think that this is just going to follow him around.

No, I’m with Shrum, I want Huckabee on the ticket. First I wanted him as president, but I’m not proud, I’ll take him on the VP slot and throw in 3 Clinton superdelegates to boot.

So it’s not going to happen because they know we want it to. Who will McCain choose? I am going to go out on a long, long limb and predict that he will at some point approach Hillary Clinton. Not saying she’ll accept, not at all. But if you saw McCain in his appearance on Saturday Night Live last night you know that the best thing we Democrats can do is come completely apart during this campaign, and one way to do it is to have Clinton on McCain’s ticket.

It would be a Limbaugh “Operation Chaos” writ large.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Letters from the "Dark Side"

It looks like the Republican National Committee is long on money and short on brains. I went to the mailbox today to get my mail – I go get the mail once a week whether I need to or not – and what do I find but an invitation to fill out their “Republican Party Census Document”.

They had my name and address correct, my voting district and my registration number. So my voting record must be deep in the recesses of the RNC’s database. To the RNC I am a “grassroots supporter” of the party of the Dark Side.

Me, one of 75,000 voters of Fort Bend County who voted in the Democratic primary last March. One of a million voters in Texas who caucused at Democratic precinct conventions later that evening.

Those puffy old white men who run the party of the Dark Side need to check to see if their computer geeks are really doing their jobs or just hanging around playing Halo 3 while cashing their fat paychecks.

Now not only do I get to let you see what drivel the RNC is sending out to their supporters and provide commentary [between brackets], but then I get to answer these questions and send it back to them in their business reply envelope.

They break down the issues under major headers in bold. This is to help the census participants shift their brains from one foul, mean-spirited, and spiteful political theory to another. You have 3 answer choices: “Yes” “No” “Undecided” [they left out H-E-Double hockey sticks No]


[Is it just me or is anyone else getting tired of that term? Why didn’t they just name it “Fatherland Security”?]

1. Should Republicans do everything they can to prevent liberal Democrats from repealing the USA Patriot Act and other important laws that help our intelligence agencies protect America?

2. Should Republicans stop the Democrats from cutting funding for our intelligence agencies or bringing back Clinton-era restrictions on inter-agency communications?

3. Do you support the use of force against any country that offers safe harbor or aid to individuals or organizations committed to further attacks on America?

4. Should we do everything we can to stop Democrats from weakening border security?


[Yes, after waving the bloody flag they go on to what really matters: where can they get themselves some more money]

1. Should we make our fight against the Democrats’ massive tax hikes a central part of the 2008 campaign?

2. Should we continue working to permanently repeal the Death Tax?

3. President Bush’s successful income and capital gains tax cuts are set to expire – should they be made permanent?

4. Should Republicans fight for a balanced budget?

[Why? Because they haven’t yet?]

5. Should Republicans unite to keep our pro-growth achievements from the past seven years intact by blocking new federal government bureaucracy and red tape?

[You have to admit they didn’t specify which growth they were pro, like pro-growth of overseas jobs and pro-growth of debt to the People’s Republic of China]

6. Should Republicans in Congress oppose the new, wasteful government spending programs proposed by the Democrats and their leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid?

[Yes, the Republican wasteful spending programs are so much better, aren’t they, especially when the profits go to KBR and Blackwater]


1. Do you agree that we must stop illegal immigration?

2. Should Republicans oppose Democrat plans for one-size-fits-all, government-run health care?

3. Should we continue working for serious tort reform to protect individuals and small businesses from predatory lawsuits?

4. Should we make sure President Bush’s judicial nominees receive fair hearings and up or down votes in the Senate?

[waitaminute, are they planning on having some judges for the Senate to vote on between now and January 21st or do they have something else in mind?]

5. Should Republicans in Congress protect our private property rights from eminent domain?

[…just as they do in Texas with the Trans Texas Corridor?]


1.Do you think Congress should pass the Federal Marriage Amendment protecting marriage as a union between one man and one woman?

[First out of the chute? What else? Gay bashing]

2. Do you want Republicans to defend the recently-passed partial-birth abortion ban from attacks by the Democratic majority?

[Yep, get out of the way you sentimental fools and let us kill us some babies]

3. Do you support President Bush’s initiatives to allow private religious and charitable groups to do more to help those in need?

[That’s it? Just three issues? Nothing about adultery, pederasty and casual sex in men’s rooms? Hmmpf!]


1. Do you think US troops should have to serve under United Nations’ commanders?

[Geez, I never thought about that, but now that’s a darned good idea. Leave it to the Republicans to think up new ways for the UN to maintain peace in the world]

2. Do you agree that our top military priority should be fighting terrorists?

3. Should Republicans fight Democrat efforts to impose Clinton-era cuts in the Pentagon’s budget?

[Ah. I remember that. We called it the “peace dividend”. Bush replaced it with a war kleptocracy]

4. Do you support economic sanctions against North Korea and Iran to stop their nuclear weapons programs?

[Wait. I don’t get it. Neither of these countries have a nuclear weapons program. So if they don’t have one, does that mean we will send grain to North Korea and iPods to Iran?]

5. Do you agree that sowing the seeds of democracy and freedom in the Middle East is a worthy goal?

[As in, they are going to be free and democratic if it kills them?]

Then they go through some rigmarole and you look past the donations boxes to check to come down to the check box that I truly admire. The one that I will select.

“No, I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years”

Now, these questions are meant to do one of two things. Either to inflame the cold, cold hearts of Republicans to agree to each and every one of these questions so they drop a check payable to RNC in one of the following amounts: $500, $250, $100, $50, $25, or Other.

Or to find out what Republican voters out there are truly thinking, and take those results into the room when they sit down to draw up their fall campaign strategies.

What are the chances they are really opting for the second alternative?

No, I didn’t think so either.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lampson Goes Back to High School

I wonder what it is like, really, to have been a teacher in Texas public schools, and then to move on to eventually become elected a US congressman, but then to back to a Texas high school campus to talk to a standing room only crowd of 120 high school students?

Nick Lampson, my congressman, did exactly that today.

I wonder if he noticed any similarities or differences between the students he taught those many years ago in Beaumont, and the ones at the school I now teach.

Frankly I was amazed at the level of questions that the students were throwing at him. Well, the first one was a no-brainer question that many of the audience were there to find out about. The question: “Uh . . . who you gonna vote for?”

I was sitting next to one of Nick’s staffers and commented to him “first one out of the chute has to be that one”, and he kidded me that I had prepped the kids. Not so. This was their show organized and run by them.

Nick told the students that he is going to stay neutral for now. That has a conclusion of mine for awhile now, but I nevertheless provided him with some data on where he should be leaning – in the same direction as his district. Later he mentioned that he has been involved in meetings with both camps.

He fielded a question from a student about what kinds of legislation, in what areas, were there the most partisan conflicts being fought. Nick answered that the areas were very wide-ranging and cited the partisanship that resulted when the GI Bill was not presented in committee where Republicans could affix their amendments, and that this had angered them so much that they created stalls on all kinds of legislation.

Interestingly, Nick did not mention that on this bill, HR 2642, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, a bill that passed in the House by a vote of 256 – 166, with 32 Republicans joining Democrats, Nick voted No. Yes, sorry to say that Nick Lampson joined 159 Republicans and six other Democrats and voted against our troops.

Even most of the Blue Dogs voted for this bill once they got what they wanted. I am guessing that it was the fact that the bill had no plan to pay for the extra benefits being given to our veterans, and then was redrawn to soak the rich with a 0.5% tax increase in order to pay for this.

There are lots of single people in CD 22 who make over 500 grand a year, or couples who pull down a million. They have votes AND checkbooks. Besides, they had a big majority to get the bill passed, so why not vote against it and again give the Republicans a headache as they fruitlessly try to paint Nick Lampson as a Pelosi Liberal?

But I think the question of the day went to a young lady who asked Nick what his position was on the strife in northern Uganda. “Oh, no”, said the Lampson staffer. This was very clearly something that Nick, or anyone I know (including me), know anything about. She indicated that she had brought with her some information she could let him have, and asked him to contact the Secretary of State about this.

It wasn’t too long after this that Nick’s handlers started pointing to their watches, indicating that he had better leave . . . .now . . . in order to make their next meeting. Two students passed out information on being an intern in DC, and just before leaving Nick was asked about McCain’s Iraq comments, Nick shared his opinion on how the War in Iraq is not fighting the War on Terror, that it was a sectarian war with our troops caught in the middle. That the war against Al-Qaeda is better fought in other countries with Special Forces.

Then there were the obligatory poses for photos with the congressman, and then they were out the door.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Strategic Petroleum Reserve: It’s A Matter of Economics, Not Gas Prices

The House and Senate just passed HR 6022, a bill to direct the president to suspend purchase of petroleum for storage in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Its rationale, and the reason it made the news was that this would decrease overall demand for crude and drive down the price of a barrel of oil.

The Bush Regime was completely against it, but passage of the bill, unanimously in the Senate, and overwhelmingly (385 - 25) in the House, guarantees either Bush’s signature or a veto override.

Bush rationalized that purchase of 70,000 barrels of crude per day is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the 21 million barrels that the United States consumes every day and won’t affect the futures price.

That’s 0.33% of all of the oil consumed in the US per day. I don’t often say this, but Bush is probably right, it probably won’t do a thing to the oil prices. The Chron labeled the bill “feel good legislation” for just this reason. Legislation like this, and ideas like the proposal to suspend the federal gas tax this summer, are merely, as Obama puts it, “an election-year gimmick” as well as an attempt to show the voters that Washington is trying to do something about the soaring cost of petroleum.

But that doesn’t mean the bill is a bad idea. I like it that the Feds are going to stop buying $126 per barrel oil and sticking it into the ground. Filling the petroleum reserve should always be about supply and demand. Right now there is no demand to fill the reserve but the oil speculators have driven up the price of oil, they say, based on future demand. Buying petroleum at today’s prices in preparation for some future shortfall is insane. It’s like buying a high-priced cut of meat, like prime rib, in case there’s a meat cutter’s strike someday.

It’s irresponsible to pay $8.8 million per day (in taxpayer dollars, mind you) for oil when its price has been so jacked up. The bill provides that strategic oil purchase can resume when prices fall below $75/barrel. That, friends and neighbors, saves the taxpayers nearly $3.6 million every day.

That’s just good economy.

No, if you want to do something about the price of oil, you have to do something about what is driving the oil speculators to keep on jacking up the futures prices. I’ve looked around and this guy says that these high prices are here to stay, that what we are experiencing right now is no “bubble” that can burst, causing a price drop to more reasonable levels.

He says “This ain't a bubble, folks. Better get used to it.”

If that’s the case then the bill just passed will eventually be repealed or nullified, but I really think the guy is all wet. He’s right about some things though. The price of oil has been driven up by a weak dollar, since oil is traded in dollars. He’s right that both India and China have become greater consumers of petroleum and their demand has placed some pressure on supply.

But there are other things that have driven up the price of oil. Things that speculators take seriously. And things that can be controlled.

Like war and nukes in the Middle East.

It’s hard to quantify how much more a barrel of oil costs because they are in a shooting war in the Middle East, and there’s talk of nukes in (and nuking of) Iran. But I’ll bet there are people who have done exactly that. When you say things like how you will “obliterate Iran,” with little concern for the fact that futures speculators will want to take into account the inability to produce oil in that country for 250 years, you do a little damage, and oil goes up.

I suspect that when peace breaks out in the Middle East, and maybe it will someday, we are going to see oil prices go back to their sub-reasonable levels of, say, $60/barrel. Absent that ever happening, even US withdrawal from Iraq ought to have an effect at the pump.

It’s going to take some common sense, some cool heads, and better economics, but this oil bubble will burst someday.

But for now, that Prius (or, I guess, that Honda Civic hybrid) is starting to look mighty tempting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

John Edwards: Fence? What Fence?

My main man, John Edwards has had a fence to sit on since he pulled out of the presidential primary process in February. And there he sat as the weeks dragged on as the mud was slung across it from Clinton to Obama and then back again.. A hint dropped here and there about how Elizabeth Edwards favored Clinton’s health care plan. But Edwards stayed neutral.

I thought I detected a shift when he came out earlier in the week suggesting that continued internecine angst was okey-dokey unless it was going to be hurting the party in the general election. Words echoing those of Obama surrogates who bemoaned Clinton’s slash-and-burn win-at-any cost sort of politics.

But now, as of this afternoon, John Edwards is officially off the fence and has embraced the candidacy of my other main man, second-best main man, Barack Obama.

I just never thought he would ever endorse the Clintons. Sure they are speaking on the same populist level as Edwards often did, but I never bought that their message was really very sincere. Edwards could do populism because that was him. Hillary Clinton does populism because it makes her sound like the salt of the earth, and not a Wellesly alumnus.

Now what does this do for Barack Obama? Edwards has delegates but aren’t they bound to their candidate? I think so. So this isn’t about delegates, this is about getting others off the fence. Uncommitted superdelegates. Uncommitted labor unions. Edwards, as I recall, has the endorsement of the United Steel Workers and the United Mine Workers, and since he suspended his campaign, the unions haven’t made any commitments to either Clinton or Obama. Is this a signal to them who they should now endorse? If so, I am wondering whether the West Virginia vote would have gone any differently had Edwards made his endorsement a little earlier.


But that’s another story.

This is only good news for Obama’s campaign. The party is starting to unite. Will this provide a catalyst for Clinton to end her campaign?


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

West Virginia . . . mountain mama . . . take me home . . .

On this evening of all of us sitting down to find out how many white voters Hillary Clinton can scare into voting for her (instead of that guy who simply can’t attract white working people), there are two short Obama ads on You Tube that show both cleverness and ingenuity. Two traits that personifies the campaign of that less-than-white guy.

By the way, is it just me or is anyone else completely turned off by Hillary Clinton’s “whites only” remarks?

Here’s my fave. Mom . . . sit down . . . I have . . . hope.

And this one. Clearly Obama wants to turn a new page in history. Do I have to draw you a picture?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Somebody Needs to Run Against Fort Bend 3rd Precinct Commissioner Andy Meyers

Really, somebody should.

Now a Democrat will never be able to win in this. Fort Bend County’s 3rd precinct includes the Katy/Cinco Ranch area of the northern end of the county, and anyone with politics to the left of Genghis Khan is going to have a tough go with that area’s voters.

But somebody has to run against him. Maybe so that he can get some idea of what it is you spend in a serious campaign these days. A serious campaign where you have an opponent.

But really, for a lot of reasons, someone needs to run against this guy.

Covered today in FortBendNow and also at Susan’s not-a-blog is the story of her near-total victory over Andy Meyers in her ethics complaint filed a year and a half ago with the Texas Ethics Commission. Meyers agreed to pay $1600 in fines without acknowledging guilt.

Now you can read about all of the particulars at the above links, I just want to make a couple of very simple observations. First, why did Andy Meyers feel the need to spend $38,500 for “political expenditures” from July 2005 to January 2007? Who was Meyers running against? The truth is that since March 2004 Meyers has not had an opponent.

So what is it about this kind of money being spent for “political expenditures”? The only thing I can recall coming from this individual was twenty or so 3 X 6 hate signs that appeared on the scene late in the 2006 mid-term election. Signs that were traced back to Meyers. Signs he paid a little over a few grand for as I recall.

But that leaves a whole bunch more of that balance to account for.

The assertion that Meyers was using his campaign account for his personal benefit seems to have been turned aside by the TEC. They appear willing to accept an explanation of accounting errors as the cause for these filings. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, though, considering the fact that Meyers is, himself, an accountant. In fact, from his own county website he lists himself as having these qualities: “MBA in Finance & Economics - L.S.U., Licensed CPA, Licensed Real Estate Broker, Held Series 7 Securities Dealers License (sic).”

Masters in Business Administration? Certified Public Accountant? Securities licenses?

I recall in past years that he cited these very qualities of business acumen as reasons people should vote for him.

Now he can’t even file a correct campaign expense report? This brings me to my second observation.

Somebody needs to run against this guy because if he is correct, and all of these things were due to his accounting mistakes, then he is a self-admitted incompetent. Self-admitted, and also an incompetent as indicated by the TEC itself. Didn’t they make note of the fact that his $6,800 emended report also had errors?

Frankly, I don’t know what is worse: an incompent accountant in public offce or accounting incompetently in an emendation when the errors have already been revealed to him.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

House Republicans Vote to Table Mothers Day

This is a bit of old news but I wanted to save it for today, Mother’s Day, in case I didn’t have anything good to say about yesterday’s election – which I don’t.

One hundred and seventy eight Republican congressmen voted against Mother’s Day after they voted for it.

This is a true story.

Nebraska congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R – NE 1) sponsored a house resolution, HR 1113, to honor Mother’s Day on its 100th anniversary of observation. It had words in it like this (I trimmed it a little but kept the best parts):
"Whereas Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of each May;

Whereas 2008 is the 100th anniversary of the first official Mother's Day observation;

Whereas in 1908, Elmer Burkett, a U.S. senator from Nebraska, proposed making Mother's Day a national holiday;

Whereas it is estimated that there are more than 82,000,000 mothers in the United States;

Whereas mothers have made immeasurable contributions toward building strong families, thriving communities, and ultimately a strong Nation;

Whereas the services rendered to the children of the United States by their mothers have strengthened and inspired the Nation throughout its history;

Resolved, That the House of Representatives celebrates the role of mothers in the United States and supports the goals and ideals of Mother's Day.”
The resolution passed by unanimous vote and the House was about to move on to other business when Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R – KS 4 ) stood to move to reconsider the vote. I asked myself whether Tiahrt was maltreated as a child, or maybe abandoned, but the actual explanation was that Congressman Tiahrt was simply engaged in Republican politics-as-usual and simply wanted to put a stall on proceedings in Congress. He was mad that he wasn’t allowed to make any changes in a bill dealing with supplemental funding of our troops. Republicans, in retaliation, were taking every opportunity presented to them, and some that weren’t, to stall proceedings. And why not call for a revote on Mother’s Day?

Democrats countered by moving to table the call for a revote and this is the motion that will haunt Republicans, because 178 of them voted against tabling that motion.

Voted against Mother’s Day.

So yes, the Republicans won in putting the House through yet another groaning vote, but shot themselves in the foot by publicly voting against American mothers from coast to coast.

Indeed, Fortenberry, the bill’s sponsor, voted against mothers everywhere.

I suppose it is going to take real boners like this one to show Americans that there is a huge need for change in this country. It is going to take super majorities in both houses to do it, and a Democratic president in the White House.

It’s either that or who knows what will happen next.

Unless we get this majority maybe there will someday be a vote to repeal apple pie.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hillary Clinton’s Metric Allows Her to Claim She Won Texas CD 22

I have to wonder about the quality of the rope that Hillary Clinton’s statistics group is smoking these days. On Talking Points Memo, Clinton has a slide show up for congressional superdelegates to view, showing that she wins “in the tough districts”. In that PowerPoint presentation, on Slide 4 to be specific, Clinton’s people clearly indicate that Hillary Clinton carried Nick Lampson’s CD 22 in the March primary.

Now I know that Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff have come up with numerous metrics to prove to superdelegates that she is the one, and not Barack Obama, who is the strongest candidate to face John McCain in the fall. These metrics have been quite creative in their construct, with many of them taking advantage of one aspect, let’s say being able to carry a district in the primary, without due consideration of another key aspect, let’s say being able to win against a completely different opponent, a Republican one, in the same district in November. That winning against Obama is in some way a measurement of how she will win against McCain.

But now I have come to find out that Hillary Clinton claims that she carried Nick Lampson’s Texas CD 22, and I know that this is, to use Barack Obama’s more tactful way of putting it, “an inaccurate statement”.

I don’t know where her people got this information, but it was obviously not the way I got mine. I got mine by looking at the precinct-by-precinct vote totals for Fort Bend, Harris, Brazoria and Galveston Counties where Nick Lampson was on the ballot. It’s laborious but it gets you to the truth so there’s some value in that.

Could they have come to the conclusion the way this Hillary Clinton blogger/supporter came to his? By making the erroneous assumption that Senate District 11’s boundaries were a virtual overlay to CD 22’s, and that Clinton carried SD 11? At the time I saw that I thought at best this was sloppy statistics, and at worst another attempt at statistics of whatever the truth is conveniently supposed to be.


Whatever the case, CD 22 definitely did not go to Hillary Clinton, and Clinton has no claim on winning in Lampson’s tough district. That honor goes to Barack Obama.

OK, OK. At the top is the graphic. Here is the math. County breakdowns go like this:

Fort Bend County: 28,512 Obama (61.1%), 18,209 Clinton (38.9%) – 98 precincts
Harris County: 13,650 Obama (43.8%), 17,501 Clinton (56.2%) – 76 precincts
Brazoria County: 7,170 Obama (59.2%), 4,948 Clinton (40.8%) – 20 precincts
Galveston County: 5,440 Obama (53.1%), 4,814 Clinton (46.9%) – 21 precincts
Totals: 52,072 Obama (53.4%), 45,472 Clinton (46.6%) – 215 precincts

But now this is what I have to ask myself. If this is something that I know with a certainty, and Clinton’s people have it wrong, if they are mistaken in an area that I definitely know about, can they be mistaken in other areas that I don’t know about?

In short, where else is the Clinton campaign ly . . . er . . . making inaccurate statements?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Only One Texas Congressman Is An Undecided Superdelegate

News came tonight that one of the two remaining Texas Democratic congressmen who has held himself in the undecided column has now declared allegiance.

On The Chron tonight is news that Ciro Rodriguez (Texas CD 23) has declared his support to the flagging campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Josh Rosenblum, Ciro Rodriguez’ congressional aide offered these words in explanation:

“A big reason is because his district voted so overwhelmingly for her, that's one of the biggest reasons.”
That’s a big reason. I’ve been waiting to hear this and frankly ask myself why it has taken so long. Ciro Rodriguez’ newly reconstituted district did vote for Hillary Clinton. His district was the victim of Tom DeLay’s twice in a decade redistricting. The US Supreme Court found in 2007 that the design of CD 23's district boundaries violated guidelines on drawing them based on racial distributions and ordered that new boundaries be drawn. Rodriguez subsequently won the CD 23 seat from DeLay’s stooge, Henry Bonilla, by a huge margin in a special election.

So that’s settled.

Now all we have to do is wait for Texas’ final uncommitted congressman, CD 22’s Congressman Nick Lampson, my congressman, to make his allegiances known.

Just one more Texas congressman.

Our Nick.

In a previous posting, I have pointed out to Nick and his staff that his district’s Democratic primary voters voted for Senator Barack Obama in the majority. In fact, I have provided the CD 22 breakdown in excruciating detail:

“CD 22 Totals: 52,072 for Obama (53.4%), 45,472 for Clinton (46.6%)”
So how about it? Ciro Rodriguez, the other Texas freshman congressman who has withheld his endorsement has weighed in, and based his presidential choice on his district’s preference. Is it not time for my superdelegate to respond in kind?

Will my congressman, Congressman Nick Lampson, honor the voters in his district, the majority of whom voted for Barack Obama in the March 4th primary, and do the honorable thing and throw in for Barack Obama?

It’s not the safe bet, mind you. Nick Lampson has a Republican constituency to worry about and there are lots of them. But I have to wonder whether the idea is to throw in for the guy the majority of your constituents want in the White House, or the one that Rush Limbaugh wants his beloved John McVader to run against in November.

Tough decision.


Down to The Wire: Vote For Jonita Reynolds on May 10th

Tomorrow the voters living within the boundaries of Fort Bend ISD will have a final opportunity to repudiate the “reform” Gang of Four that turned Fort Bend ISD on its ear for two memorable years.

Two years that saw mass exodus of teachers and administrators. Two years that saw hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars flushed down the commode from the expenses incurred in replacing these people, and the lawsuits that resulted from board member actions.

Two of the original gang of four are standing for re-election and are being challenged by members of the education community. Of the two, former educator Susan Hohnbaum has the easiest task to unseat trustee Stan Magee, who claims that he does not have the time to campaign for his seat – and by correlation, does not have time to serve on the Board of Trustees. So unless the voters in Fort Bend ISD are truly asleep, look for a fond farewell to Stan Magee. In the other race, however, long-time Texas educator and administrator Dr. Jonita Reynolds has the steepest slope to climb to defeat her opponent, Laurie Caldwell.

Caldwell, whose personal and educational qualifications for this position are dwarfed by those of Dr. Reynolds, apparently has attempted to make up for that in having some help from fellow board member, Steve Smelley.

Smelley, a former supporter of Dr. Reynolds’ husband’s run for state representative in HD 27, has no similar feelings toward her. So much so that a story has emerged that Smelley, in his attempts to discredit Dr. Reynolds, has suggested that Jonita Reynolds bought her PhD degree in Education. All of that blew up in his face, however, when it was revealed that two of Dr. Reynolds’ professors in her quest for the degree at the University of Houston were none other than former FBISD Superintendents Betty Baitland and Don Hooper.

These attempts to defame Dr. Reynolds by casting doubts upon her honesty and integrity must be answered by the voters. Smelley’s insinuation is actually an accusation that Dr. Reynolds is in violation of Texas law by claiming a doctoral degree from an unrecognized institution. This is a practice that was recently abandoned by a couple of Republican elected officials in Fort Bend County when they were informed that they were committing Class B misdemeanors. Voters must reject these political ploys as the disingenuous things that they are.

Show your support for education in Fort Bend ISD by showing up at the polls tomorrow, May 10th 2008, and show even more support for education by voting for Dr. Jonita Reynolds for Fort Bend ISD Trustee Position 5.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Burma: Stricken With a Cyclone and Paranoid Kleptomaniacs

Six days after Cyclone Nargis made landfall in Burma’s Irrawaddy delta, wiping out towns and villages and destroying houses as far north as Rangoon, only a very limited amount of foreign aid has made it to any of the 1.5 million people who are now homeless in this dirt poor country.

Burma, now called Myanmar by its rulers, a junta of generals who have kept an iron grip on the country since 1962, should be by all rights a rich country. Its Irrawaddy delta is exceedingly rich farmland. Its highlands are rich in minerals. Oil has been produced from British-run oil fields since the 1920’s. Burma should be a country basking in its riches, but its people are among the poorest in the world. Its rulers, the generals and their coterie are, by sharp contrast, wealthy beyond all imagination.

I have called our present Bush Regime a “kleptocracy”, a government of people who reserve vast quantities America’s wealth for their cronies, but these people are pikers compared to the generals of Burma. And when you spend your life stealing from the very people governments are supposed to serve, you darned well have to know that they will get extremely paranoid when outsiders want to come in to help these very people.

That’s what you read, right now, about outside groups that want to bring in aid. The generals will only deal with people already in-country, not anyone else. And certainly not America. The news indicates that the generals are suspicious of outsiders, and there may be something to that, because these kleptomaniacs are ever-guarding their source of booty.

But there’s more to it than that.

The generals want to deal only with those already in-country because they already have an understanding with them. These groups originating from Bangladesh, China, India, Singapore, Italy and Thailand, already have the wheels greased. The generals are already getting their cut, you see.

That’s right. The generals need to be bribed in order for them to let these humanitarian groups bail out these stricken people.

Some humanitarian groups are disinclined to help out specifically because they want to distribute the aid directly to the people, and not just hand it over to the Burmese government for them to distribute. That’s not the way it works in Burma, however. If you want to donate aid packages to Burma, you give them to the junta, they take their cut and then, their friends take theirs, and what’s left goes to whoever can reach the farthest or jump the highest.

That’s why, when I learned this afternoon that the United States was sending a small convoy of warships to Burma to help out, I burst out laughing.

“The Navy has three ships participating in an exercise in the Gulf of Thailand that could help in any relief effort - the USS Essex, the USS Juneau and the USS Harper's Ferry. The Essex is an amphibious assault ship with 23 helicopters aboard, including 19 capable of lifting cargo from ship to shore, as well as more than 1,500 Marines.”

The last thing the generals want to see steaming up the Irrawaddy are American warships.

No, my guess, if things play out as they have in the past, it will go very much as outlined in the article I quoted. The generals will say that they appreciate all the help but really if these countries, and America, want to help, they should just give them the money and then they will use it to go and buy the supplies for these poor, poor prople who will sicken, starve and die otherwise.

I guess this should be a lesson to us all. What the Bush Regime did, or actually didn’t do, on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, to help the hundreds of thousands of evacuees and thousands of people still trapped in the disaster areas, pales in comparison to what the Burmese generals are capable of doing.

Or not doing.